Is America’s Oldest Pizzeria Located in Utica?
New York State is home to many firsts and one of them is that it is home to America's first pizzeria. In fact, it's home to the first and second oldest pizza in the country.
In the Utica area, if you ask people about the oldest pizza they would go directly to Bleecker Street where the style is "sauce on top" at O’scugnizzo Pizzeria. O’scugnizzo was founded in 1914, according to their website "by Eugeno Burlino. He only sold tomato pie (a pizza without mozzarella cheese)" and back then it sold for just a nickel. Burlino "was then succeeded by his son, Angelo “Chops” Burline, who made O’scugnizzo what it is today," according to the site.
But, O'scugnizzo's in Utica is not actually the oldest pizzeria in the United States. The oldest is in New York City. Lombardi's on Spring Street in Little Italy, New York sold their first "New York Style" pizza in 1905 and they, like O’scugnizzo in Utica, are still open today.
"Since 1905 Gennaro Lombardi crafted pizza in the United States using his bakers trade he learned from Naples," according to their website. "Lombardi is credited with developing New York Style pizza and making Lombardi's the first pizzeria in the United States."
So, if Utica's O'scugnizzo isn't the oldest in the United States, it must be one of the oldest, right? In 2015, O’scugnizzo was indeed confirmed to be the second oldest pizzeria in the United States. Now in 2021, O’scugnizzo Pizzeria is still in business in the city of Utica on Bleecker Street and is run by Steven and Michael Burline, America's second oldest pizza family.
Finally, where did the name come from?
As legend would have it, O’scugnizzo's name came from when the young Burlino would sell his pizza from a food cart. Back then, "scugnizzo" was slang for a young man who would hang out on the street or near the entrance of an outdoor event. Utican's who were falling in love with the new street food would yell, "Oh, Scugnizzo" to grab his attention so they could get a slice of the hot new item called pizza, and one would say, the rest is history.